Bay Area/ San Jose/ Politics & Govt
AI Assisted Icon
Published on May 20, 2024
Santa Clara County Unanimously Approves Plans for a Latino Health and Wellness CenterSource: Google Street View

Santa Clara County is putting plans in motion to potentially erect a Latino health and wellness center. This move comes after a unanimous decision by the Board of Supervisors Tuesday night to have county staffers bring back possible strategies for its development this June. According to the SFGate, the board seeks community involvement before making any final determinations and aims to fully assess local health access gaps through the Latino Health Needs Assessment.

"I don't want to predetermine a product or outcome," Supervisor Sylvia Arenas declared, stressing the importance of learning from the community engagement process. The proposal has garnered considerable support, including nearly 100 public remarks from various ethnic backgrounds and health advocacy groups like Latinas Contra Cancer. "Hospitals and clinics belong to the community, so it is powerful to see this incredible display of solidarity pushing our county delivery system to better serve Spanish speakers," Darcie Green, executive director of Latinas Contra Cancer, told SFGate. These details come as the county undertakes to hear directly from Latino residents about what health services are lacking.

The need for such a center emerged amid tensions between Arenas and Supervisor Cindy Chavez, who proposed revamping services at the Valley Health Center East Valley to protect health services in the face of a medical center's upcoming closure. "We cannot leave services at the East Valley Clinic in the current state they're in -- no matter what the health assessment says," Chavez argued, calling it the county's second busiest clinic, in a statement obtained by NBC Bay Area.

To model after the Vietnamese American Services Center, a facility that opened in the fall of 2021, the board is looking into renovation, leasing, or redevelopment options for county properties or facilities. This model came after eight years of outreach, and a similar community health needs assessment. Board President Susan Ellenberg hailed the decision as a victory for Latino residents: "They deserve what they need, not what we think they need," she said to NBC Bay Area. The county's approach is well-timed, as the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley's 2023 Latino Report Card indicates Latinos grapple with deepening disparities post-pandemic.

Gabriela Chavez-Lopez, executive director of the Latina Coalition of Silicon Valley, praised the county's decision and stressed the importance of incorporating cultural nuances into healthcare. "We know that culture does play a role," she explained in her interview with SFGate, signaling the cruciality of a culturally tailored approach to the local Latino population's needs.